Designer’s/Artists Names

Another uncommon marking on Medalta’s products was the name of the designer or decorator. Most of the design work was done by Medalta’s staff, and only a select few at that, and therefore it was not necessary to place their names on the item. In fact, when you read through the Medalta letters you wonder if Medalta was doing much in the area of design. Most of its products were copied after items sent in by their agents, albeit with slight modifications:

“Under separate cover, I am airmailing to you a blue brush & comb Tray badged in gold Hotel Vancouver, and with gold edge. I am asked to quote on this not later than tomorrow, Friday, afternoon.”15

“The following numbers from amongst the [lamp] samples left at the factory last fall by Importex have not yet been modelled... 710, 713, 716, 720, 721, 431...

Under seperate cover there has been shipped to you to-day Five new lamp bases...”16

The one item with a designer’s name on the bottom was the Winston Churchill jug, but in one sense it was not really a Medalta product as they did not own the model block. It had been sent in by Mr. B.A. Cunliffe and he was the exclusive distributor of the jug. “The model belongs to Mr. Cunliffe, therefore we are making them for him exclusively.”17 When Cunliffe sent Medalta the block for the Churchill jug he advised “that the name of the sculptor is on the bottom of the Jug, this has to appear on the finished article... Please take every care of the block for...I have an offer of $200.00 for the block, and copyright.”18 And when I finally saw a jug that I could clearly read, it showed his name to be “Carter Scott”. It is found written in script, impressed into the bottom of the jug. Regretfully, I have never had the time to research Carter Scott, but for sure he never worked for Medalta.

The only other artist’s name that I have run across is E.F. Hagell who did the drawings that were used on the Mountain Trails and Cattle Country series of dishes. Several years ago when I had the privilege of visiting the family in Lethbridge that commissioned these dinnerwares, they told me the story behind these patterns. Their home was full of sketches done by E.F. Hagell, a close friend of theirs, and with Hagell’s blessing, they asked Medalta to reproduce selected images on hotel china. As a private business venture, the sets were sold through various stores located throughout southern Alberta, and while they were popular, they never caught on as they had hoped they would. The problem lay with Medalta not being able to provide enough items to put sets together or to provide a consistent product. The bordering coloured band was supposed to be a reddish-brown, but when shipments of the dishes arrived from Medalta they were often banded in a different colour. Undoubtedly many collectors have examples of the dark brown banding as well as the correct lighter brown. I can appreciate the problem of trying to sell dishes that were in different colours, not to mention incomplete sets while they patiently waited for the soup bowls or pitchers to arrive!

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